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Armed forces covenant

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service leavers engaged

From camouflage to hi-vis: supporting military leavers into construction 

Ex-army officer Karen is one of many former members of the Armed Forces forging a new career in construction.

Willmott Dixon recognises the skills that armed forces personnel gain as part of their service can play a critical role in the success of our construction projects. That’s why we support the Defence Employer Recognition Scheme, holding a Silver Award from the Armed Forces Covenant for our commitment to help service leavers and veterans find employment in the construction industry.

Through initiatives like our Constructing Lives Together programme, with Weston College, in Weston-Super-Mare, we have connected with former services personnel to help them find rewarding new careers.

With growing skills gaps for both technical and soft skills, former members of the Armed Forces are a great fit, bringing experience of teamwork, communication, flexibility, problem solving and working under pressure to the construction industry.

Karen .jpgJust look at the story of Karen McNeil – a former military professional with nine years’ service – who joined Willmott Dixon following a 16-year career break to start a family.

“I’d considered all kinds of jobs in the meantime, but everything had to be flexible around childcare – caring, retail, office work just wasn’t me,” said Karen.

While working in the office of a construction company, Karen realised her passion and previous experience as a Logistics Officer were a great fit for a role on site. Lacking qualifications and experience to progress Karen reached out to Weston College where she found out about the Constructing Lives Together programme.

“I was looking at trade qualifications, maybe carpentry,” said Karen, who signed up for the initiative and joined Willmott Dixon at the Bristol Beacon for an initial two-week work experience period.

Karen added: “I loved it from the start. I loved the people, the different characters, the different backgrounds, but that everyone was all pulling together as a team for the end result. It’s the closest thing to the military I’ve experienced.”

Karen’s excellent performance led to a paid role on Willmott Dixon’s Bristol Beacon project. She started without having the experience of a large construction site, but her military training enabled her to quickly step up to play a crucial role in the day-to-day running of the site logistics for one of the company’s biggest projects.

“The simplest way I can describe it is that I feel like I have my life back!”, said Karen.

“This job is challenging and tough at times but ever so rewarding. I love it.”

Karen WD.jpg